For 6 weeks to two months Lena Dunham and her publisher Random House knowingly allowed an innocent man (we identify as Barry One) to twist in the wind under a false accusation of rape. You wouldn’t know that, though, from an interview NBC’s Savannah Guthrie conducted Wednesday morning on the “Today Show.”
Rather than assume the role of a journalist, Guthrie instead went full-fan girl and propagandist. Guthrie completely ignores the fact that the details in Dunham’s memoir caused an innocent man to be accused of rape. Instead, Guthrie fabricates the notion that the media storm (that exonerated this innocent man) was meant to “discredit” and cast “doubt” on the rape accusation:
GUTHRIE: You recently wrote a memoir of your life. One of the things you talked about was a difficult episode in your life where you talk about being sexually assaulted. And the reaction to that, in the media and in the public world, was strange. In some places you were attempted to be discredited, and so many so places doubted. How did that feel for you to go through that on this public stage?
DUNHAM: It’s very difficult to share an episode that personal and receive criticism. What I received was only a small percentage of the doubt and victim blaming that most women who are sexually assaulted in this country experience. I am a celebrity with a platform and a lot of incredible support. Most women who come forward with accusations of sexual assault don’t have those benefits, don’t have my legal and emotional and financial supports. So for me, I really feel like it enhanced my understanding of the cause and hopefully will make me a better advocate and activist in the future.
GUTHRIE: And giving voice to those who might have been voiceless.
Guthrie then asked Dunham for an acting role on Dunham’s HBO show “Girls.”
GUTHRIE: Let’s end on a happy note. Lot of great guest stars on “Girls.” As for the yet unwritten role of responsible big sister, or girl five, I want you to know I am still available.
In what was advertised as a non-fiction memoir, Dunham gave her alleged rapist 7 completely unnecessary identifying characteristics that pointed everyone with Google to an actual person — an outspoken conservative Republican who attended Oberlin College at the same time Dunham did.
Dunham now says she made up those identifying characteristics out of thin air. She also claims that the fact that those 7 unnecessary details point to an outspoken campus Republican was just a “surreal coincidence.” Moreover, we now know that while Barry One was hounded by the media and lived under a cloud of suspicion as Dunham’s rapist, for at least 6 weeks both Random House and Dunham ignored pleas from Barry One and his legal counsel to clear his name (see the timeline here).
Dunham and her publisher finally came forward and did the right thing last month, but only after a lawsuit was threatened and Breitbart News released an in-depth investigative report clearing Barry One’s name.
While the outcome of the lawsuit remains unknown, Random House has agreed to ensure that future printings of Dunham’s memoir make clear that the details pointing to her alleged rapist are fabricated details.
Although no journalist has yet shown the courage to press Dunham on this scandal during her publicity blitz for the upcoming premiere of the latest season of “Girls,” it would be one thing for Guthrie to join her cowering colleagues and choose to ignore altogether the controversy surrounding Barry One.
What Gurthrie did, though, was to intentionally and dishonestly mischaracterize the scandal.
Guthrie didn’t just gush over Lena Dunham, she lied to her audience.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC